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Six Nations: Who will Gregor Townsend name upon for Scotland?

Into what number of extra Six Nations campaigns will Gregor Townsend lead Scotland?
Dates: 4 February-18 March
Protection: Chosen matches on BBC TV and BBC iPlayer with stay textual content commentary and BBC Radio Scotland commentary on each match.

On Tuesday afternoon, for the sixth and probably ultimate time, Gregor Townsend will title his squad for a Six Nations championship. We are saying ultimate (doubtlessly) due to all of the hypothesis linking the Scotland coach with a transfer elsewhere as soon as his contract expires after the World Cup within the autumn.

A day scarcely goes by with no Townsend story hitting the rugby pages. He is being interviewed by France for the position of assault coach. No, he is first in line for the Leicester job. Hold on, a man who regarded like Townsend was noticed in a restaurant in Bristol. Maintain your horses, wasn’t that Townsend in a bakery in Bordeaux, a patisserie in Paris?

The chat is feverish (the Leicester hyperlink is rising on a regular basis) and on Tuesday he can be requested about all of it. Do not anticipate many solutions. Does he wish to keep? Does the SRU need him to remain? Are they speaking to one another or simply getting ready for the afterlife?

Townsend can be grilled, however the possibilities of him giving something away on that entrance are minimal. You will not be stunned to listen to that he is centered on the Six Nations and the Six Nations alone. His future is just not essential. The group is every part. That lifeless thwack you may hear emanating from Murrayfield in early afternoon would be the sound of Townsend making use of a straight bat to all questions on him staying or going.

These are loopy occasions on this planet of worldwide rugby. Warren Gatland has changed Wayne Pivac in Wales, Steve Borthwick has changed Eddie Jones in England who’s changed Dave Rennie in Australia who’s being talked about as a substitute for Townsend if he exits later within the 12 months.

There’s blissful calm in all of locations, France, the rugby nation that elevated behind-the-scenes chaos to an artwork type.

It tells you all it’s good to learn about how the other way up the rugby world is true now. When the French are trying secure and a few others are in transition then one thing very bizarre is occurring.

Townsend’s time as a Six Nations coach is a case of what-might-have-been taking part in on a loop. He is gained 12 out of 25 video games which is only one fewer than England over the identical five-season interval (however England have a championship to their title), and solely two down on Wales (who’ve a Grand Slam and a championship in the identical timescale.)

He has by no means managed to get his group within the shake-up on the ultimate weekend, their likelihood repeatedly destroyed by huge under-performances or maddening moments in in any other case tight video games. In Townsend’s time, Scotland have misplaced six video games within the championship by seven factors or fewer and drew a seventh when main going into the 83rd minute.

It is solely while you look again do you notice how head-wrecking a few of them had been. An terrible determination made underneath strain, just a few ridiculous penalties given away on the incorrect time, a try-scoring alternative butchered, a sudden outbreak of sentimental mentality syndrome.

The precept of “tight margins” in elite sport is a cliché however that does not imply it isn’t true. It’s. Scotland are the dwelling embodiment of it. You half anticipate the ghost of Jim Bowen to leap out of a cabinet within the Scotland group room to inform the gamers “this is what you can have gained had your penalty depend not gone into outer-space when the warmth got here on”.

So one final likelihood (possibly) for Townsend to do what no Scottish coach has ever accomplished within the historical past of the Six Nations and that is put them within the hunt for the title on the ultimate weekend.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend

Scotland’s damage woes

It would not be the Six Nations if it wasn’t for damage worries, although. And boy does Townsend have them. Solely Adam Hastings has been dominated out of the complete match, however there is a host of stellar operators who’ll in all probability miss the early video games: Darcy Graham, Hamish Watson, Rory Darge and, above all, Zander Fagerson.

Townsend will really feel the lack of all of these guys, however Fagerson’s absence (for nevertheless many match weeks it lasts) is the costliest. By the point he comes again and will get as much as Six Nations depth, Scotland’s race might have already been run.

At tighthead, Townsend would not have anyone remotely in the identical bracket as Fagerson when it comes to carrying energy. Murphy Walker can also be carrying a knock, however he is untested in probably the most unforgiving terrain of Six Nations rugby. Past that, there’s WP Nel, Simon Berghan and Javian Sebastian. In some way, the cavalry have to carry the fort till the massive man returns. England first and Wales second, each with new coaches on a restoration mission. That is a tough begin.

That is the greatness of the Six Nations; the image modifications yearly and a complete new vista seems. Will Sean Maitland, on type for Saracens, be introduced again into the fold now that Graham is out? What number of of Scotland’s myriad facilities will make it? Most, if not all, are flying.

Say a prayer for no late eruption within the Townsend-Finn Russell relationship. If Russell is first alternative at 10 and Blair Kinghorn is second then who’s the third man? The Fin Smith ship has sailed, so is it Tom Jordan who’s bettering quick with Glasgow or Ben Healy, quickly to make his transfer from Munster to Edinburgh? Jordan has banged out some glorious performances and deserves the popularity.

Townsend may spring a shock on Tuesday. It virtually would not be a Townsend announcement with no bolt from the blue. Whether or not that is his final time doing this or not goes to be a powerful ingredient in his press convention.

Within the speedy time period, although, it isn’t the place Townsend goes, or not going, that is the largest situation, it is the place his group are going. North or south from final 12 months? Hope or not heading into the World Cup? The story begins on Tuesday.

Scotland’s 2022 Six Nations outcomes

5 February, Scotland 20-17 England

12 February, Wales 20-17 Scotland

26 February, Scotland 17-36 France

12 March, Italy 22-33 Scotland

19 March, Eire 26-5 Scotland

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